Environmentalists Want More Regulation of Oil and Gas Development

By: Jessica Zartler Email
By: Jessica Zartler Email

Laura Amos says she knows first hand about what drilling for oil and gas can do to the water.

"It was a daily worry what was coming through the tap," Amos told 11 News outside of the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission public hearing at the Two Rivers Convention Center on Tuesday.

She says she lived in Silt when the West Divide Creek was contaminated because of a drilling accident.

"For many years my daughter, my family did not drink from the tap because of fears and concerns," said Amos.

She was one of more than 200 people to testify in front of the commission.

Out of 21 major provisions in the draft rules, eight of them address the environment.

New rules that aren't outlined in current legislation right now are protection for the drinking water supply, an inventory of chemicals used by oil and gas companies, pollution prevention and a required consultation with state health officials before a permit is issued.

Rules in the draft that will add to existing ones cover stormwater management, odor and dust management, waste pit lining and the way spills are reported.

Meg Collins, President of the Oil and Gas Association, says industry leaders already monitor their companies to keep the environment safe.

"This industry is heavily regulated, we rely on our regulators and our own good company policies to address those issues in a timely manner," Collins told 11 News on Tuesday.

Collins says the state doesn't need to rewrite all of the rules, and the last time they did, it took five years, not a couple of weeks.

"This is a Herculean task for the commission, what's the rush?" asked Collins.

She says the industry would be happy to come to the table and work out the regulations for things like surface water over time.

"Let's set the issue aside and have a full discussion of the issue and not try to cram it in a few hours over one of the twelve days the commission is meeting," said Collins.

But for environmental advocates like Laura Amos, relying on the industry just isn't good enough.

"Their responsibility is not to protect the health and safety and environment, their responsibility is to make money," said Amos.

Since the commission wrote the draft rules Governor Bill Ritter signed new legislation to address some environmental concerns.

The new law requires oil and gas companies to double–line wastewater pits, keep them atleast one-half of a mile from homes and have a plan in case of an emergency.


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